LG Tunes In To Family Ambassadors

Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
Heres the latest from LG Electronics: Family Ambassador programme. The company has come up with the human resource initiative to understand how family members of employees perceive LG as an employer. In this novel approach, HR managers visit family members to take suggestions on improving the organisational environment.

Says YV Verma, vice-president, HR and management support, this is being implemented to create a sense of bonding in employees towards the organisation. This may turn out additional dividends for the company in the form of increased emotional commitment of the staff.

Although the initiative touched on factory workers initially, the company also has a similar programme for managerial staff. There are open house sessions where family members are invited to the workplace.

There is a free communication between employees and the top management. Even here the emphasis is on trying to win the normative (emotional) commitment of employees, says Ms Suman Parashar, head corporate HR.

There may be tricky situations in such open house sessions. This can happen when families compare benefits received by employees and jealousies come to the fore. But we have not confronted such a scenario till now because as an employer we believe in providing better prospects and opportunities within the organisation for every individual who has the potential to enhance our business, says Ms Parashar.

Consultants affirm that the initiative concentrates on the emotional quotient of employees instead of unidimensionally focusing on rational aspects. Says Mr Gautam Nath, director, corporate services, NFO MBL, a market research firm, the Family Ambassador programme is actually one of the first ice breakers in a series of possibilities which the HR team can consider in emotional bonding. Mainly because it brings a humane touch to otherwise seemingly large and faceless organisations.

In order to avoid monotony, Mr Nath adds, organisations can discover innovative ways to be in touch with families and receive feedback on a regular basis. Here, social gatherings, annual day celebrations, sports events, spend-a-day-with-dad programmes, factory visits come in handy.

Not all consultants agree on this practice. Says Mr Ravi Machiraju, chief executive officer and managing director, RMA Vector International, family members in India can get quite specific, intrusive and direct in their probing questions and demands. They can certainly not be under-estimated as pressure group on employees. Also, the native intelligence of folks who stay at home is not an insignificant factor and they know how to get a good deal for themselves. I see this as an initiative that will work at some levels and at other levels this may end up putting pressure on LG.

There is also a possibility that the organisation and its employees may not have the same level of enthusiasm to participate in such an exercise in the long run. This intervention like several other HR practices can suffer from repetitive fatigue as days pass by, says Mr Yogesh Misra, brand manager, Thomas International.

Further, HR professionals concerned who have met family members have to give presentations to the top management in LG on perspectives and opinions gathered from such interactions.

Based on these presentations, a set of solutions are planned out. But there is a possibility that family members may not open up to company professionals in initial meetings. Says Mr Sunil Kalra, head, factory HR, LG Electronics, since we are not very familiar with the relatives, there are possibilities that they may not speak up, at least during the initial interactions. And to prevent this, we approach them in a completely informal environment so that any such hesitations are warded off.

The company is not bound to implement all suggestions. We tell the families that some of their suggestions cannot be implemented. We also provide them with the relevant explanations, adds Mr Kalra.